Igor Zelenay has already claimed two Challenger doubles titles this year and is closing in on the all-time record. As it stands right now, Sanchai Ratiwatana is on 48, while his twin brother Sonchat has 46. Zelenay tied the latter by triumphing in Zagreb a couple of months ago. The Ratiwatanas and he share the same birth year (1982), but the sibling duo hasn’t shown up on the court since the pandemic.
“For me, the big goal is to have fun on the court and play tennis. I’m 39, my career is coming to the end. I’m enjoying it, I’m having fun, and I’m not counting the titles. I just wanna have fun on the court and keep playing until I’m having fun. Of course, if I can make the record it will be nice, but I think it’s still a long way to make it” said Zelenay after defeating Albano Olivetti and Fernando Romboli (along with Denys Molchanov) on Wednesday at the Braunschweig Challenger.
Despite it not being constantly on his mind, the Slovakian is now just three matches away from adding another trophy to the title count. In the quarterfinals at Braunschweig, he and Molchanov will be heavily favored to beat a pair of German 18-year-olds with a wildcard – Philip Florig and Liam Gavrielides – who made a huge upset over Artem Sitak and Sumit Nagal in the opening round.
Zelenay took his 46 titles so far with 25 different partners. Only one of them was there with him on more than four occasions–along with Molchanov, who’s competing alongside him again at Braunschweig, they raised eight Challenger titles. “Something is working good on the court with us together. I have no clue what it is, but it’s some great key. We are strong in the net, we are good serving, so we are good holding the serves, I think that’s really important in doubles. Then we are giving a lot of pressure to the opponents, they have to win their serve. So I think this is the biggest key.”
That prowess in winning their service games was the key again for Molchanov/Zelenay on Wednesday. The two couldn’t break their opponents but still ended up winning 7-6 2-6 10-5. Especially the big delivery of Olivetti gave them plenty of trouble, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the Frenchman once clocked in a 257.5 km/h serve at the Bergamo Challenger (second on the all-time list, but not officially recognized by the ATP).
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